Staff, Students and Faculty Engage in Creative Diversity Dialogues

During a gathering at the Ackland Museum of Art, a group of Hospital and School of Medicine staff, students and faculty used images and objects to reflect on pressing hot topics.

In the current American context, we are bombarded daily with events that prompt questions about who we are as a nation and how our individual opinions about “hot topics” shape our personal and professional lives. Conversations between colleagues can be challenging at times. Time constraints and fear of offending those we interact with keep us from sharing our perspectives and hearing those of others in productive ways.

During a gathering at the Ackland Museum of Art, a group of Hospital and School of Medicine staff, students and faculty used images and objects to reflect on pressing hot topics, such as immigration, racial equity, stereotypes and bias. The goal was to provide a space for individuals to learn more about each other and how current events can influence our work with patients and colleagues.

One participant described the experience as a “non-threatening way to get us talking about how we see others”. Another participant stated, “As first-year medical students, we don't often get the opportunity to explore issues of race, gender, ethnicity, etc., in the broader context outside of health care. Even just one afternoon at the museum with such a wonderful group of diverse individuals was hugely informative”.

The UNC Health Care Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine Office of Inclusive Excellence co-sponsored the pilot project. The session was facilitated by Mimi Chapman, Professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work, Carolyn Allmendinger, Director of Academic Programs at the Ackland Art Museum, and Elizabeth Manekin, Head of University Programs and Academic Projects at the Ackland Art Museum. Plans are underway to facilitate additional sessions in 2018.